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Form
and
Structure




From
Fundamentals
of
Jazz
Improvisation:

What
Everybody
Thinks
You
Already
Know


Dr.
Mark
Watkins

Director
of
Jazz
Studies

Brigham
Young
University–Idaho








©2010
by
Mark
Watkins

Materials
herein
are
provided
for
personal
use.

No
part
may
be
reproduced

without
written
permission
from
the
author.
Form


All
music
has
some
sort
of
organization
or
design.

Most
jazz
tunes
are
sectional.

Alphabetic

indicators
(A,
B,
C,
etc.)
are
used
to
designate
melodic
and
harmonic
structures.

If
a
significant

portion
of
the
composition
recurs,
the
same
indicator
is
used
for
each
recurrence.


Minor

modifications
to
a
melody
or
harmony
usually
don’t
justify
the
use
of
a
different
alphabetic
label.




Phrases
tend
to
be
in
8‐measure
units,
especially
those
tunes
taken
from
the
songbook

repertoire.

Often,
8‐measure
units
are
in
two
groups
of
four
in
an
antecedent/consequence

(question/answer,
call
and
response)
manner.

Amidst
the
commonality
of
8‐bar
phrasing
there

are
examples
of
different
phrase
lengths.

Blues
tunes
are
often
organized
into
three
4‐bar

phrases.

Benny
Golson’s
Stablemates
(below)
has
phrases
of
14+8+14.

Other
tunes
might
have

7,
9,
11,
or
other
length
phrases.

Clues
for
analysis
include
harmonic
cadences
and
recurring

thematic
material.

Tunes
with
text
have
additional
clues
of
sentence
punctuation.



Example
1:
Blues
(AAB),
1st
chorus
(see
below)
of
Fine
and
Mellow
(Billie
Holiday)


The
A
section
melody
is
the
same
for
each
A
except
for
three
notes
at
the
onset
of
the
second
A.


The
text
is
also
similar
with
only
one
added
word
in
the
second
A.

The
harmony
moves
to
IV
in

m.
5
and
returns
to
I
in
m.
7.

These
differences
between
A
sections
can
be
labeled
A
and
A’

(prime)
but
usually
are
not.


The
B
section
contrasts
more
distinctly
in
m.
9,
enough
to
use
a
new
letter.

Instrumental

renditions
of
tunes
don’t
use
text;
however,
the
example
herein
does
and
lends
to
the
labeling
of

AAB
as
the
first
two
4‐bat
sections
are
similar
but
the
third
uses
new
text.

The
harmonic
change

is
no
more
drastic
than
m.
5
but
still
adds
to
the
contrast
of
AA
to
B.






Example
2:
Blues
(AAA),
Bag’s
Groove
(Milt
Jackson)


It
is
not
uncommon
for
a
blues
to
repeat
the
same
4‐bar
phrase
three
times
in
its
12‐bar
form.


Even
though
the
chords
are
different
in
each
4‐bar
section,
it
is
labeled
AAA
because
of
the

melody.




Example
3:
Blues
(through
composed),
Blues
for
Alice
(Charlie
Parker)


Tunes
with
no
significant
repetition
of
thematic
material
are
labeled
through
composed.




Example
4:
Rhythm
Changes
(AABA),
Anthropology
(Charlie
Parker)


The
8‐bar
phrases
in
most
rhythm
tunes
can
be
divided
into
4‐bar
groups.

The
second
A
is
often

slightly
different
from
the
first
A.

Chords
at
the
end
of
the
first
A
are
designed
to
lead
into,
or

turnaround,
and
start
the
same
phrase
over;
whereas,
chords
at
the
end
of
the
second
phrase

prepare
the
bridge.

Rhythm
tunes
usually
resolve
to
the
tonic
chord
at
the
end
of
the
second
A.


This
provides
contrast
into
the
bridge
from
tonic
(B‐flat)
to
the
chromatic
mediant
(D7),
an

interesting
color.

Similar
principles
apply
to
the
melody,
often
resolving
to
a
note
other
than

tonic
at
the
end
of
the
first
A,
less
final.

The
third
A
in
Anthropology
melodically
resolves
to
tonic

whereas
the
first
and
second
A
sections
do
not.



Example
5:
ABAB,
There
Will
Never
Be
Another
You
(Mack
Gordon
and
Harry
Warren)


The
A
sections
are
identical
but
the
B
sections
are
not.

A
majority
of
the
melodic
and
harmonic

material
in
the
second
B
is
different
than
the
first
B;
however,
the
onset
of
melody
is
the
same

giving
the
listener
the
impression
of
a
return.




Example
6:
AABC,
Autumn
Leaves
(Johnny
Mercer
and
Joseph
Kosma)


A
notable
component
of
this
tune
is
its
recurring
chord
sequences.

The
first
4‐bars
of
B
are
the

same
as
the
last
4‐bars
of
A.

The
second
4‐bars
of
B
are
the
same
as
the
first
4‐bars
of
A.

C

begins
the
same
as
B
but
moves
into
a
cycle
of
ii
V7s.

Melodically,
the
A
sections
are
identical

except
for
the
more
final
resolution
to
tonic
at
the
end
of
the
second
A.



Example
7:
ABA
irregular
phrase
lengths,
Stablemates
(Benny
Golson)


This
ABA
form
uses
is
organized
into
14+8+14
measure
melodic
and
harmonic
units.

The
14

measure
phrases
can
be
grouped
into
two
7‐measure
parts,
the
first
resolving
to
G‐flat
major

and
the
second
to
D‐flat
major.

The
B
section
(bridge)
is
an
8‐bar
phrase
in
two
groups
of
four.



Structure


By
structure
it
is
meant
how
the
Head
is
turned
into
a
complete
performance.

How
is
the

arrangement
created
on
stage?


A
few
definitions
are
necessary:


Backgrounds:
accompanying
material
improvised
by
players
not
soloing,
can
be
behind
head

melody
or
improvised
solo,
usually
by
wind
instrumentalists
as
opposed
to
rhythm
section

musicians
or
vocalists.


Changes:
the
chord
sequence
specific
to
a
tune
or
structural
component.


Chorus:
one
time
through
the
form
of
the
tune
(what
is
found
on
the
lead
sheet).


Coda:
same
as
tag,
literally
means
tail,
extra
music
at
the
end
of
the
out
head
designed
to
help

bring
the
performance
to
a
conclusion.


Form:
the
phrase
structure
of
the
head
including
melody
and
chord
sequence
(i.e.
AABA).


Head:
composed
melody
and
accompanying
chords,
what
is
often
found
on
a
lead
sheet,
usually

played
two
times
at
the
beginning
and
end
but
may
be
only
once
dependent
upon
length.


Interlude:
a
section
of
music
performed
between
improvised
solos
or
other
parts
of
the

structure.


Intro:
(introduction),
something
played
before
the
main
melody
starts.

This
is
outlined
in
detail

below.


Kick:
any
musical
element
that
encourages
a
soloist,
often
by
the
drummer
but
can
be
a
written

line
for
wind
players.


Lead
In:
and
interlude
between
the
head
and
the
first
soloist,
also
called
a
kick
(although
this

term
has
other
meanings).


Lead
Sheet:
a
page
of
music
containing
a
single‐line
melody
and
chord
symbols.

Some
lead

sheets
may
contain
important
harmony
parts
or
contrapuntal
lines.

Lead
sheets
do
not
include

written
arrangements
for
all
players.


Solo
Break:
space
for
soloist
alone,
rhythm
section
stops
playing,
most
commonly
when
a
haed

melody
resolves
on
bar
7
of
last
A
section
two
bars
before
return
to
top
of

the
form.


Tag:
a
coda,
extra
music
at
the
end
of
the
out
head
designed
to
help
bring
the
performance
to
a

conclusion.



An
outline
of
an
on‐stage
performance
might
include
some
or
all
of
the
above
segments,
as

follows:


Example
1:
most
simple




Example
2:
perhaps
most
common




Example
3:
most
complex,
requires
prepared
parts
(memory
or
written)